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The Mobile Corporation: More than a Connection

By the DynaSis Team

Business owners hear frequently that they should have a good mobile site or application for their customer-facing efforts (e.g. sales or marketing), but what about corporate mobile apps? Are those important too? Depending on your business model, the answer can yes―or no. Corporate apps can be an important contributor to “Modern Officing,”―an operating model where employees can perform many or all office duties wherever and whenever it suits them, without the boundaries of time and space. However, as with public-facing mobile apps, corporate apps must be “done right” to succeed.

Corporate mobile apps are company-branded and approved tools that enable employees to run processes and connect to the corporate resources from their mobile devices. They allow companies a greater level of control and access restriction than simply allowing personnel to get direct access over the Internet. And they are becoming increasingly affordable to develop. So, what’s not to love?

Of the nearly 70% of employees that use personally owned smartphones and tablets in the workplace a majority (58%) abandon the corporate mobile apps they should be using for work-related tasks (per a 2013 survey conducted by ResearchNow). Most concerning, the report revealed that 64% of employees "go rogue," freely downloading public “productivity” apps of their choice and putting corporate security at risk.

Some 26% of smartphone users―and nearly 20% of tablet users―report that they "stick with" the corporate mobile app, but that productivity suffers as a result. A majority of users also reported returning to their desktops to complete tasks they could not effectively accomplish via mobile apps.

Now for the big question: what should your company do? That depends upon your level of technological sophistication and need for the apps. The reality for all businesses―especially small and medium-sized businesses―is that corporate apps are not a requisite in the way that customer-facing apps are. You do have options:

Secure cloud-based access: If you want employees to have access to corporate resources, for a very reasonable fee you can make those resources available securely, “in the cloud” Cloud security has improved substantially, especially when your data is hosted at a world-class data center or on your company’s own servers. Such setups are dramatically more secure than public apps. DynaSis’ ITility solution and DynaSis BLUE are approaches that incorporate this model.

Public apps with strict BYOD policy enforcement: Not all public apps are bad. It’s the unrestricted usage of them, without any corporate screening, that is dangerous. The survey we mentioned earlier found that only 24% of the businesses surveyed were enforcing a formal BYOD policy. Developing and enforcing a BYOD policy that lets employees download only approved, secure, well-respected mobile apps will go a long way towards reducing your risk, as well.

This effort is about incentives and enforcement as much as access. If personnel are using devices they paid for, you won’t be loved for restricting them from downloading public apps for personal use. You can incent them to use only company-approved solutions instead, through a combination of perks (company-paid minutes and data bonuses) and routine “health checks” with serious penalties for those that break the rules. Just make sure your choices are well-designed and intuitive or you may find yourself firing a lot of employees.

In-House Apps: If you want to develop in-house apps, they must be functional and intuitive. Companies developing them must adopt the best practices that are common with customer-facing apps. These practices include identifying user personas and use cases and targeting functionality to the broadest base of users. Corporate apps may not be a requisite, but if you are going to use them, they must work elegantly and offer a rich, mobile app experience.

DynaSis’ on-demand CIOs can help you evaluate and develop your mobile strategy and decide which of these approaches is best for you. The most important point is to do something. If you are waiting to make a decision about corporate mobile apps―or public mobile apps in the workplace―you are putting your company at risk. In the absence of a clear policy and directive, don’t wonder if your mobile-enabled employees are downloading public apps without your knowledge. Be assured that they already are.

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